Dr. Daniel B. Drachman, Neuromuscular Expert and Founder of the Johns Hopkins Department of Neuroscience, Dies – Baltimore Sun

Dr. Daniel B. Drachmann, one of the world’s foremost authorities in the field of neuromuscular disease and founder of the Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who also helped world-renowned pianist Leon Fleischer regain the use of his right hand and return to his concert stage, died of a seizure. Heart attack and infection on October 24 in the hospital where he has been working for more than five decades.

Stephenson’s longtime resident has been 90 years.

“Dr. Drachman was a leading authority in the treatment of myasthenia gravis and other neuromuscular diseases,” according to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine profile announcing his death.

“His four-decade findings on myasthenia gravis, which he determined was an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks nerve receptors in muscles, have transformed it from an often fatal disease to a highly treatable one. He started it around botulinum toxin in the 1970s to develop botox as a clinical treatment for neuromuscular diseases.”

“Dan was a very amazing person,” said Dr. Justin C. MacArthur, professor of neurology and director of the department of neurology at Johns Hopkins University.

“He was a physician and a scientist who provided the highest clinical care, yet at the same time conducted cutting-edge research that became treatments. He was also a teacher and trained more than 100 service deans and department heads around the world.”

Dr MacArthur added: “His patients loved him and he would spend hours listening to them. He was an old-fashioned doctor listening and not paying attention to the clock or sitting there typing at the computer.”

Dr. Daniel Bruce Drashman was the son of Julian Drashman, head of the high school’s English department, and Emily Ditchmann Drachmann, who taught Hebrew. His paternal grandfather, Bernard Drachmann, was the founding dean of the American Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.

Dr. Druckman was born in Brooklyn, New York, to identical twins. His brother, David Alexander Drachmann, went on to become a leading Alzheimer’s researcher and founding chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

1976 file photo.  Dr. Daniel Druckmann's research has focused on the origin of neuromuscular disorders and the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

He grew up in the Manhattan Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, brothers, who reached over 6 feet tallAnd the Graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Manhattan Beach. They graduated in 1952 from Columbia College and in 1956 from what was then New York University College of Medicine, which is today New York College of Medicine.

They have completed internships at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and residencies in neurology and neuropathology at the Harvard Neurological Unit at Boston City Hospital, and have been researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

“They were extraordinarily close and established a language they could only understand, speaking several times a day about their neurotic patients,” Dr. MacArthur recalls. “They were soulmates as well as brothers.”

When his brother passed away in 2016, Dr. Drashman told The Boston Globe: “Having someone very close on hand who is a competitor and a supportive friend is probably the best way to get things done.

“All our lives, if either one of them had a difficult issue to discuss, who would we call? The other of course. We talked every day, twice a day.”

From 1960 to 1963, Dr. Drashman worked in research at the National Institutes of Health when he joined the faculty at Tufts University School of Medicine as an assistant professor of neuroscience.

In 1969, he joined the newly established department at Hopkins as Assistant Professor of Neurology and was the founding director of the Department’s Neuromuscular Program. He was promoted to professor in 1974, and six years later, he was appointed professor of neuroscience.

Dr. Druckmann’s research has focused on the origin of neuromuscular disorders, the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig’s disease, and neuromuscular autoimmune disorders.

In 1987, his work made national headlines when his study revealed that patients with muscular dystrophy could delay the need for a wheelchair by two years with prednisone. He ran a 2012 study of a gene-based therapy that turned off the rodent equivalent of myasthenia gravis by focusing on the disease’s devastating immune response.

In order to draw attention to the need for ALS research, Dr. Drachmann and his wife, Jevta Pyatigorski, whom he married in 1960, embarked on a three-month transcontinental bike ride in 1990 that took them 4,660 miles from their home in Stephenson to Seattle.

Dr. Druckmann helped Baltimore pianist Leon Fleischer regain the use of his right hand. His contribution became part of a 2006 short documentary film, Two Hands: The Leon Fleischer Story, directed by Nathaniel Kahn.

The pianist was preparing for his 1964 concert tour when he discovered he “could not use his fourth and fifth fingers on his right hand,” The Sun reported in a 2007 review of the film.

A long struggle began with Mr. Fleischer, who was forced to learn left-hand ammunition, until Dr. Drashmann diagnosed the pianist in 1990 as focal dystonia, which was an unknown condition at the time, and began treating it. Targeted doses of Botox were also unprecedented.

“In the case of focal dystonias such as Lyon’s dystonia,” Dr. Drashman explained in a 2007 Sun article, “there is at least some evidence that it may be recognized.”

He added, “Leon has been very brave and persistent, and those two things have been great in his comeback. Even with Botox, what we can do is stick around for his dystonia. But I think the people who put in the kind of effort that Leon did actually brought it back.” programming their brains to some extent.”

In 2004, Mr. Fleischer was able to return to the concert stage and duet music.

Although Dr. Drashman closed his lab a few years ago, he still worked at Hopkins to see patients and lecture until he had a heart attack in September, family members said.

In his private life, Dr. Druckman was an accomplished clarinetist who enjoyed playing chamber music with his father-in-law, Gregor Pyatigorsky, a famous Russian cellist, who owned two Stradivarius cellos.

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Chamber music was very important to him,” said his son, Jonathan J. Drashman, of Seattle. “He enjoyed playing chamber music at New Year’s Eve parties.”

He was also an expert fisherman who shared his passion for fishing with his brother, and together they enjoyed traveling throughout Wyoming, Alaska and Canada to practice the sport.

His son said he was also an avid reader and had “a wide range of interests that have carried over from the circus to many other things”.

was dr. Drachmann is a member of the Bethel Church.

His wife, the accomplished sculptor and former president of the Shriver Hall concert chain, passed away in 2019.

A service was held on October 27 at Sol Levinson & Bros. in Pikesville.

In addition to his son, he is survived by two other sons, Evan B. and five grandchildren.

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